Fariyal Khanbabi, CEO at Dialight
Every seven seconds, a U.S. worker is injured on the job, resulting in some 105 million total days lost to work-related injuries each year. Even more troubling, some 4,572 people were killed in preventable workplace incidents in 2019 alone.
In addition to the toll these tragedies take on workers and their families, workplace injuries cost the U.S. more than $171 billion, including some $1 billion paid out per week by employers for direct workers’ compensation costs.
For these reasons and many more, improving facility safety is top priority for U.S. employers, especially in heavy industrial and warehouse operations. To prevent accidents, companies invest millions of dollars each year in risk mitigation programs that range from installing safety features and equipment to continuous safety training and even incentive programs to keep safe work top of mind for employees.
But one of the most important safety features in any facility is often overlooked—or perhaps “underlooked” as the case may be.
Reliable, high quality industrial lighting is essential for workplace safety. Providing clear visibility is the number one factor in preventing some of the most common lost-time and injury-producing accidents. Furthermore, modern LED industrial lighting has proven to be the most reliable, safest source of industrial lighting on the market. And upgrading antiquated HID fixtures to state-of-the-art LED lighting is one of the easiest and cost-effective investments companies can make in improving worker safety and lowering company risk. Here’s why.
1) LED fixtures offer better visibility that reduces the risk of slip, trip and fall hazards. Slips, trips, and falls account for most industrial accidents, causing 15% of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicle accidents. Poor lighting has been identified as a leading cause of these accidents because workers simply can’t see the hazards and risks right before their eyes.
Improving overall illumination can reduce accident rates by as much as 60%. In fact, one CDC study found that the crisp, white light emitted by LED fixtures can improve trip hazard detection by nearly 24%, while a separate CDC/NIOSH study noted a 94% faster detection rate of trip hazards and 79% faster detection of peripheral motion with the use of LED lighting.
2) The low maintenance of LED lighting substantially reduces the risk of high-elevation work. For the 10th consecutive year, falls from elevation ranks #1 in OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations list, with more than 5,400 individual citations for failure to protect workers from falls from elevation in the last year alone. Conventional HID lighting sources require frequent bulb changes that force workers to climb ladders or utilize lift equipment to access the fixtures.
LED lighting, on the other hand, lasts at least 3X as long as conventional fixtures, virtually eliminating bulb and fixture changes, along with the high elevation fall risk associated with lighting maintenance, for up to a decade or more.
3) LED fixtures are more durable than conventional lighting, which means fewer outages. Aside from the fact that LED fixtures just last longer in general, they’re also much less susceptible to premature failure from shock, vibration, and other environmental factors common in industrial and warehouse facilities. In many cases, because lighting may be hard to access or require production downtime to change, facilities will wait until multiple fixtures are out to send in a maintenance crew. As if the visibility wasn’t bad enough with dull, orange light of antiquated high-pressure sodium fixtures—the most common type—when the lights begin to fail, it exacerbates the poor visibility.
By contrast, LED lighting is much more durable and resistant to the harsh environment in industrial and warehouse situations, which means fewer outages to reduce visibility. But not all LED fixtures are made the same. When choosing an industrial LED supplier, look for one that offers a robust, custom-built power supply specifically designed for industrial lighting applications. These will offer the most durability compared to off-the-shelf power supplies that can’t withstand the intense industrial environment.
4) The crisp, white color of LED lighting improves color perception. Conventional HPS lighting produces an unnatural orange color, with a color rendering index (CRI) in the mid-20s (on a scale of 0-100 where natural daylight is 100). This can distort colors and make it hard to distinguish hues on warning placards or wiring, putting workers at risk. It can even hinder accident responses, with workers or emergency responders being unable to distinguish blood from oil at an accident scene.
Industrial LED lighting boasts a CRI around 90, making it the nearest-to-natural-daylight artificial lighting source on the market. This visual clarity and color rendering enables workers to distinguish colors more easily, reducing the risks associated with misinterpretation.
5) Industrial LED lighting can improve worker alertness. Especially now, with manufacturing and warehouse facilities hit hard by the talent shortage, many workers who are on the job are working harder with extra-long hours to help meet production goals. That means fatigue is a real problem, made even worse in facilities with 24-hour operations where employees work overnights or swing shifts. Fatigue can put workers at risk, not only if they fall asleep on the job, but also by lowering their situational awareness and reaction time.
Industrial LED lighting can help offset some of that risk. The white light of LEDs has shown to improve alertness and reduce fatigue by 5X by suppressing melatonin levels. Studies show that LED light even improves performance and speed, which means it can bolster safety and productivity.
Click image to enlarge
Figure 2: LED lighting increases worker visibility and alertness like this high bay in an airplane repair facility
As production slowly rebounds after post-pandemic curtailments and the war for talent heats up among employers, companies must do everything they can to provide a safe and comfortable working environment, both to reduce staff risk and to attract new employees.
Investing in modern, industrial-grade LED lighting is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to prevent workplace accidents, keep workers safe, and reduce the financial impact of safety violations. Not to mention, with high-efficiency LED lighting systems now on the market warrantied to last a decade, it’s a smart investment in sustainability and overall operational efficiency.
 Abdou, “Effects of Luminous Environment on Worker Productivity in Building Spaces”
 Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
 Falchi, ““Limiting the impact of light pollution on human health, environment and stellar visibility”
Edwards, NREL, “A Literature Review of the Effects of Natural Light on Building Occupants